Shea sighed when the elevator doors opened.
“Another day of the bullshit,” she mumbled. She glanced at the welcome sign on the message board that faced the glass doors she walked into. Before she could close the door to her suite, she scowled at her boss stooped over Shea’s desk.
Why is this woman always at my desk like she doesn’t have an office of her own, Shea thought out loud.
The thin, vanilla-complexioned woman turned to look at Shea. “I’ve got some of your labels,” she said, and held them up for Shea to see.
“How did you know where they were?” Shea asked evenly.
“Oh, I’ve seen you pull them out before,” Mary said and walked past Shea to her office.
And you couldn’t wait fifteen minutes for me to get here? Shea thought, with a roll of her eyes. The receptionist sat down and sighed. Shea ran a hand through her thick brown hair and wondered how long it would take for this chin-length haircut to go back to her usual shoulder-length wrap. She watched a stand of her hair fall onto the switchboard phone as she pressed the Nights button to turn the phone on. Shea stared at the boxes around her desk and knew she couldn’t procrastinate on packing any longer. Today was Moving Day, the day her unit would move into the building on the other side of the railroad tracks.
“I’m sitting right behind you,” Mary said, a couple days ago as the two walked over to see the layout of the new office. Shea closed her eyes and concentrated on making sure nothing ignorant could come out of her mouth.
That woman is going to be peeking in on me every five seconds, Shea thought. She looked at how the new receptionist’s area was set up and noticed how close the office behind it was to her.
And now I can’t even browse the Internet.
Shea remembered all the times she’d watched her boss walk out of her office, to the front, look to see who was by the elevators, tell Shea something trivial (“I bought a new memory disk”), and then walk around the office. As far as Shea was concerned, Mary had no reason to walk around the office. She always wanted to tell Mary that she was the administrative supervisor, not the night watch security guard.
I didn’t get a degree to become a damn receptionist, Shea thought, for the millionth time since she’d walked into her workstation. She had watched Mary come to her desk while she was sitting there and go into her drawers, use her phone, repeatedly ask her where she was going to lunch, check her packages for the Return to Sender addressee, and even follow Shea around on her break to talk about work. Before Shea could remember any more things her boss had done to annoy her, she heard her cell phone vibrate and light up.
“Hello?” she whispered into the phone. Shea knew one of the main rules at the office was not to talk on cell phones during company time, but because she had to watch the switchboard, she couldn’t stand up and leave the area like other co-workers.
“Hi. Is this Shay?”
Shea shook her head and said the same thing she’d been saying for twenty-one years: “It looks like Shay, but it’s pronounced She-uh.”
“Oh. Well, this is We Write Corporation. I’m calling today because I saw your resume on Great CareerTimes.com and we’re interested in offering you a proofreading position. Would that be something you’re interested in?”
Shea grinned widely. “Of course.”
“Great. Now I know you live in Chicago. Is Mt. Prospect too far of a drive for you?”
Shea’s grin slid slightly as she remembered selling her car two months ago. “No,” she lied
“Okay. So you do have reliable transportation?”
“Yes.” CTA is reliable sometimes.
“Alright. Great. I would also like to let you know that this is a temporary position for six months.”
Shea’s head dropped into her palm as she shook her head. She remembered how convenient it was to only co-pay for a physical exam and how she’d just paid off her credit card bill with the tuition reimbursement money from work. She glanced at her purse and remembered her rent check hadn’t been mailed yet.
“Hello?” the recruiter said.
“Yes. Yes. I’m here,” Shea sighed.
“Are you still interested?”
Shea knew in her workbag lay an 81,000-word novel just completed and her very used journal.
“No sir. I’m going to have to pass. If I take this temp. job, I’d be back to the drawing board in six months.”
“Well, that’s too bad. We’ll definitely keep your resume in mind for future jobs though.”
“Thank you. I appreciate that. Thank you for calling me.” She pressed the End button on her cell phone and looked at her computer desktop.
“Shea!” Mary yelled from her office.
“Yeah?” Shea yelled back. If she can yell, I can too.
“Make sure to pack those magnetic letters for the greeting board.”
Shea looked at the message board for the second time that day and stood up. Slowly she took down the sign that let guests and employees know they were welcome here.